Focus on Changing Yourself Rather than Changing your Partner


When the new relationship glow wears off, you might be surprised to find yourself in a relationship with a person with flaws, a person who has a slightly (or sometimes completely) different view of the world from you. It can be tough to accept that your partner isn’t the perfect creature you saw when you met. But you must resist the urge to try to change all of your partner to match your expectations.

We are all a product of our upbringing in that we echo the words and actions of those we are close to or those we admire. These things shaped you into the person you are today. Your partner was raised differently and thus will hold other things as more or less valuable than what is paramount in your own value system. When your partner does or thinks differently than your norm, you might initially find this difference hard to accept.

As you grow closer to your partner, you will start to accept some of his or her values and internalize them yourself, and vice versa. Some of the things you found irritating will begin to wane. Some will seem less important in the larger scheme of things. A healthy relationship practices this give and take, and the relationship is stronger for it. There are certain changes you will want to encourage your partner to enact.

Making healthy life choices, like quitting smoking or making healthier sleep habits, are changes you can encourage but should never demand. Not all changes are so easy, though. Changing someone else is impossible, especially if the change is a matter of choice and not necessity or efficacy. People resist change; they feel unnatural in unfamiliar territory. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Imagine they wanted you to change something just for the sake of change. Would you immediately go along just because they ask?

Now, imagine your partner asks you to commit to a change that will make your life better, make you healthier, and benefit your relationship. Is that change easier to swallow? Changing your partner to fit your preferences isn’t the end goal of a relationship; creating a healthy, balanced relationship is a more fruitful goal. Instead of making your partner change, look at yourself for change.

Rather than trying to change your partner, ask yourself if you are willing to change as well. Instead of insisting your partner change his or her actions, explore why you want him or her to change. If it is not necessity, ask why he or she should change for change’s sake. Perhaps the change you seek should be the change in your attitude. Practice calm acceptance, and look for areas to meet in the middle.

Read Tip #1, Tip #2 and Tip #3.

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